Photographer Karishma Pranjivan captures the dazzling symphony of colours found throughout Rajasthan’s architecture, decor, people and everyday life.
In a nation that already celebrates colour like no other, Rajasthan outshines its neighbours by a mile. When you consider the marvellous architecture, opulent decor and its location in the heart of the desert surrounded by sand dunes, it might sound like something straight out of a fairy tale at first, but the Land of Kings is a very real place filled with history and romanticism.
Often called the “jewel in India’s crown,” the province of Rajasthan is comfortably tucked away in the country’s northwestern corner along the border of Pakistan. The region is known for its extravagant palaces and imposing forts that were once the backdrop for everything from Burkha soldiers to war elephants. The tall historical buildings tell the tale of bygone eras, while the artisanal crafting and impressive attention to detail remains appreciated centuries later.
“Rajasthan specifically has always been a magical place for me,” photographer Karishma Pranjivan gushes to LYFSTYL. “No matter how many times I go, I still can’t get over its majesty and ethos.”
Beyond the architecture and royal palaces, many including Karishma point to the vibrancy of the colour that assaults you at every turn as the defining feature of Rajasthan. Throughout the history of Rajasthan, generations of dynamic and eccentric kings and queens, warrior castes and religious houses have each ingrained their own sapphire, fuschia, saffron, crimson, turquoise, indigo, magenta or lavender somehow into the design of the region, maintaining the idea that behind each colour is a story.
“I believe that traditional dress as well as architecture is what really sets Rajasthan apart in regards to colour.”
“I believe that traditional dress as well as architecture is what really sets Rajasthan apart in regards to colour,” Karishma says. “It’s so rich in history that you can really feel as though you’ve stepped back into time walking around in almost any city or town. It has this regal and almost fanciful charm which you can really get lost in.”
Known as the “Pink City,” “Blue City,” “White City” and “Gold City” (Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur and Jaisalmer respectively), the four principal cities of Rajasthan have their own particular colour and charm. These nicknames are dubbed after the colour of their architecture that seems to sweep across the city and absorb the skyline, further reinforcing the defining element that seems to be a source of pride among locals.
“In Udaipur we stayed at an incredible hotel which used to be a 16th century palace,” Karishma recalls. “The hotel is perched on top of a hill which overlooks the Rajasthani Village of Delwara, so you really feel as though you’re immersed in it all. The building spreads over the entire hill and is 4 stories high. Each room is unique and the grounds are completely open to explore so you can walk around or chill in any of the public spaces. Some of them were hidden away or up on the roof, all with traditional Rajasthani decor and design. What I loved most about this place was that during the renovation they kept almost everything the way it was when it was first built to retain authenticity, so it feels luxurious in an old-fashioned way rather than completely modernized.”
As she aimlessly wandered the streets of Udaipur and Jodhpur, Karishma observed the ordinary settings and everyday inhabitants of Rajasthan. “I really tried to capture the spirit of each scene and place we visited as authentically as possible by focusing on the details that caught my attention most,” she says. “I loved the really mundane and ordinary things, capturing everyday moments or seemingly boring details was something I was just inherently drawn to.”
It’s the blood that runs here – so the locals say. From the bustling bazaars to the turbans and traditional dresses that stretch to all colours of the imagination, it’s not only the architecture of Rajasthan that paints a vivid picture – it’s everyday life.
This unscripted warmth and enthusiasm can be seen in how the locals seem to revel in the opulent displays that surround them. The paintings, murals, stone work and ornaments have stood the test of time and continue to shine in the present. Visitors often leave with a newfound appreciation of how the vibrant colours have elegantly permeated themselves everywhere from the most extravagant palaces the world has ever seen to the daily lives of its inhabitants. Even the Rajasthan provincial flag is a rainbow of colours.
“Colour is something which is synonymous with India as a whole, but I definitely think that colour in Rajasthan is unlike any other region,” Karishma admits.